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Sunday, September 22, 2013

Autumn in New York

For a long time, I only knew Harry Connick, Jr.'s version of "Autumn in New York," from the soundtrack to When Harry Met Sally (1989). It's jaunty, for lack of a better word -- the kind of song I play when I'm in a good mood, or when I want to be in a good mood. It might actually be the first NY song I ever loved, though I had absolutely zero dreams of living here, at the time. And every time I hear it, the playlist in my head segues directly into "I Could Write a Book."

Perhaps because I had been so very attached to that soundtrack (I wore it out on my mom's portable cassette player, and eventually on my very own Walkman), it took me a while to warm up to the next version I heard.

Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong (1957)

It did, eventually, grow on me. If I'm in the mood for the more melancholy sound, though, I prefer Sarah Vaughan's version, from just a year earlier.

On the random, there's a bit of this version where the instrumentation reminds me of a James Bond theme.

So, it really is Autumn in New York. I've been here for just shy of a week, but am already feeling immersed. My things arrived from California the day after I landed, so there was a scramble to find movers and transfer it all to a storage unit, which was, of course, more expensive than I'd budgeted for. But it was doable, so now it's done. And with that, I have—after 9 months—really, really left the bay area! I've also received word that my New Orleans stuff is (finally) en route to Brooklyn. No clue, yet, what I'll do with it all in the long run. Depending on what apartment I eventually find, it may all end up in storage, or maybe just sold. Either way, it'll feel good to have it all in one place.

After a couple of days spent largely at U-Haul, I've now been able to start exploring and meeting/meeting up with people. I've mostly been in Prospect Heights—I'm crashing here, but it's also turned out that the people I've been meeting up with are in this area as well. Yesterday afternoon, I had brunch (lunch, really) with two ladies I hadn't seen since high school. We went to a Mexican restaurant called Taqueria des los Muertos (not the name I would have chosen). In the evening, I had dinner with a friend of a friend, who had been kind enough to invite me over. We talked until late, and I walked home, around the corner, in the rain. Today, I'll probably drop by and watch a movie with a former coworker from San Francisco, who has recently moved into an apartment right down the street from where I'm staying. It's strange, like acquaintances from far flung times and places have all converged in one place.

So, now I'll start figuring out my place here. I expect to be a bit of a nomad for a while, which I'm beginning to get anxious about. I do think it's all going to work out, but I'll feel better when I know how!

Friday, September 20, 2013

"NYC" and a little music trivia

I've never seen the stage production of Annie. I've also never watched the entire 1999 film, but will need to rectify that sometime. Audra McDonald (Grace) is a boss. Victor Garber (Spy Daddy Warbucks) is a boss. If they weren't awesome enough, there's also Alan Cumming (Rooster), Kristin Chenoweth (Lily), and Kathy Bates (Miss Hannigan)!

This number, NYC, isn't in the 1982 movie (which I watched A LOT as a little girl). Bonus points for the Andrea McArdle cameo.

True story: I thought McArdle was the original stage Annie, but looked it up to confirm. Turns out she wasn't—she replaced the original actress after a week of performances. The role was actually originated by a girl named Kristen Vigard. Funnily enough, I know that name, but only because my friend M. put a fantastic song by her on a mix.

Kristen Vigard - God Give Me Strength

I later heard a cover of the song by Audra McDonald -- Annie full circle! I like both versions, though I tend to prefer Vigard's: I find hers more powerful, though McDonald's is more beautiful.

Also true: I didn't know until tonight that "God Give Me Strength" was a Burt Bacharach tune (written with Elvis Costello for the film Grace of My Heart). It's not as obvious in the version I'm familiar with, but this earlier version (featured in the film, though not on the soundtrack) is totally Bacharachian. And here's Bacharach and Costello performing it on Letterman, for good measure. I'm not enough of an Elvis Costello fan to appreciate that version, but it's still clear that it's a gorgeous song.

Monday, September 16, 2013


"No Sleep Till Brooklyn" by Beastie Boys (Licensed to Ill, 1986)

[Full disclosure: I intend to sleep before Brooklyn.]

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

"The streets are paved with diamonds and there's just so much to see..."

"New York City" by They Might Be Giants (Factory Showroom, 1996)

This was a new one to me -- thanks to A.S. for the recommendation. And I wonder, again, why I don't own more TMBG.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

"Rhapsody in Blue"

I'm pretty sure I've read that Gershwin said this was about America, not just New York.

"Rhapsody in Blue" (1924)

But I feel like Gershwin is enough to make it a New York song. Also? 2 of my favorite minutes of music (ever) are in this song. You know the part I mean. It felt awfully fast leading up to it, so I was glad that he slowed down.

Monday, September 2, 2013

If I knew the tunes...

"Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters" Elton John (Honky Tonk Château, 1972)

True story: I was introduced to this song in the form of this cover.

Mandy Moore (Coverage, 2003)

Saturday, August 31, 2013

"Across 110th St."

Bobby Womack (Across 110th St. [Soundtrack], 1972)

I've never seen the movie, but the song is a classic. Someone recently suggested that I consider Harlem, which she says is gentrifying. I'll be sticking with Brooklyn (my job's over there anyway), but am curious whether she's right.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

"Empire State of Mind (Part 2) Broken Down"

I had never heard this version until my brother played it for me, the night I got the job offer in Brooklyn. Out of the set, I'd say Alicia Keys' lyrics are the weakest, but the hook is still catchy, and I do love a slightly melancholy piano.

Alicia Keys, The Element of Freedom (2009)

For some reason, it reminds of of an old-fashioned TV show theme. I mean that in a good way.

"Empire State of Mind"

I knew what the follow-up would be, right? I tried to resist this song when it came out. I failed.

Jay-Z, ft. Alicia Keys The Blueprint 3 (2009)

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

New York state of mind

Billy Joel, live at the BBC, 1978. Fun fact: this song was released into the world just a few months before I was.

So, what are your favorite songs about New York? Not sure yet if I'll be flying or driving, but a playlist seems in order.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Crosspost: Review: The Ocean at the End of the Lane

My instinct was to write this review longhand, which probably won't mean much to you (except that I am old), but says something to me about the emotional space I was in after finishing the book. I took out my boarding pass, thinking I'd write on the back, not wanting to put it into my just-started professional notebook (it's teal, and has a fabric placeholder, and only has writing on one page -- a to-do list, most of which remains to be done). That was my instinct but, as it turned out, I'd left my pen in my backpack, which was safely stowed in the overhead compartment, and which I did not feel like retrieving just to get a pen. So, I "wrote" on my phone, in an app designed to look like a pad of yellow paper. I like the lines, but I miss the feeling of pen, and the imaginary lines on the imaginary page made me think of Lettie Hempstock saying that nothing is really what it looks like on the outside. 
I read The Ocean at the End of the Lane in less than the time it takes to fly from New Orleans to New York. I started during takeoff and when I finished, and checked the map, it told me that we were somewhere over North Carolina. It was a quick read, and the story is fairly simple: a man returns to a place he once called home and he remembers a time when he was a boy, when he met a girl and lost his heart. But it's better than that, and not quite like that at all. It was, as the best books are, full of more than you think will possibly fit in its pages. It was A Story, in the way Isak Dinesen might have meant -- bigger and more true than you'd imagined at the start. It was not unlike Lettie Hempstock's ocean, even knowing that it really was an ocean. 
And now I'm not sure what to say about it, though I felt, immediately, like I wanted to say something. Hm. That seems like a problem for a book review. So, here's what I think you need to know to understand what I thought of the book, which is really the point of a review: I mostly didn't think about it and I consider that a good thing...

Sunday, July 14, 2013

This is how it is.

[CROSSPOSTED AT No Shortage of Opinions]

I am tired, and I am angry. I am overwhelmed by the sense that nothing will stem the tides of violence against black bodies. I am afraid that no amount of hope or change or dialogue or legislation can undo centuries of dehumanization and disregard. I feel sad that the arc of history bends too slowly for so many. I feel powerless. But I do not feel surprised. The Zimmerman trial ended exactly the way I expected it to. I do not feel surprised, and that hollow feeling of "this is how it is"-ness really scares me.

Last night, I did something I'd avoided doing for almost a year and half: I allowed myself to see a picture of Trayvon Martin's dead body. It was attached to an article at Gawker, written by Adam Weinstein, entitled "This, Courtesty of MSNBC, is Trayvon Martin's Dead Body. Get Angry"--I'm not linking because the article is easy to find, and the picture is right up at the top. I didn't really want to see the picture, but I felt like I needed to. I needed to remind myself in the most visceral way possible that this is how it is. Beneath the rhetoric and abstract arguments of the trial and the public discourse, this - this dead black boy - is how it is. George Zimmerman follows, threatens, and fatally shoots an unarmed young man. He walks free, because he was "standing his ground." Elsewhere in Florida, Marissa Alexander fires shots to scare off a man who admits to beating her: she is denied the right to "stand her ground," and is sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Things have changed in America, and often for the better. But things have also remained the same.

Last night, I did something I haven't done in years: I cried because I was so angry that I couldn't express it any other way. I heard the verdict and it filled me with sadness and rage. I looked at the picture because I needed to let that out, and I knew that the reality of that image would give me permission to do so. Sometimes crying is cleansing -- a way to expel negative feelings and make room for positive ones. I don't know what I made room for last night. I know that, when I stopped crying, I still felt full. When I started writing this, last night, I felt too full to collect my thoughts in any coherent fashion. (I'm still not sure how coherent this is, but believe me when I say that it's an improvement.) I gave up on trying to let this out and turned instead to taking things in. I let myself get lost in the Facebook posts, Tweets, and text messages full of outrage and sadness and resignation. This sadness, this anger, is how it is. I found some comfort in knowing that I was not alone in those feelings, but it did little to help me settle my thoughts before bed. I thought I could do that by reading something frivolous, but what started out pleasantly escapist soon became too real. I was too full to handle themes of bullying, loneliness, and the emotional damage of being constantly told that you are less-than, so I gave up on that, and went back to my laptop, to see what I'd left open to read from the past few days. As it happened, I'd left open on my browser a transcript of Malala Yousafzai's address to the UN. Malala, who was also shot by a coward who feared the threat that her existence posed to his narrow-minded beliefs, was speaking to the UN on the importance of education. It is worth noting, though, that she ties her focus on women's rights and girls' education to wider ideals of justice, and the lack thereof. "Poverty, ignorance, injustice, racism and the deprivation of basic rights are the main problems faced by both men and women," Malala said. This is how it is. But Malala also reminded me that my initial sense of powerlessness and insurmountable sadness are not the final word.

So here I girl among many. I speak – not for myself, but for all girls and boys. I raise up my voice – not so that I can shout, but so that those without a voice can be heard. Those who have fought for their rights:  
Their right to live in peace.  
Their right to be treated with dignity.  
Their right to equality of opportunity.  
Their right to be educated. 
--Malala Yousafzai

Yesterday, I was filled to capacity with sadness and anger. This morning, watching the video of Malala's speech, I was struck by her courage and her capacity for forgiveness. I remember, today, that my hope, though certainly shakeable, is not yet uprooted. Tomorrow, or maybe the next day, I will again find some comfort in the knowledge that what was shared on Saturday night was not just the understanding that this is how it is, but also the conviction that this is not how it should be. I will, again, find some comfort in the hope that it will not always be this way -- that though some of us may be silenced, others will speak out in the face of injustice.

Malala believes that illiteracy, poverty, and terrorism of all kinds can be fought -- that our situations are not hopeless, and that we are not powerless. I hope that I can learn from her example that this, also, is how it is.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Quick Thoughts on Entertainment and Critical Thought

My geekery would probably be much easier for me if I didn’t think so much, but I also think that would just enable me to be passively part of the problem. And I’d like to be a part of the solution. If only to make it easier for me to enjoy the geekery.
Me, in response to Aamer Rahman's "Game of Thrones and Racist Fantasy." Read the full post over at No Shortage of Opinions.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Man of Steel (***1/2)


Catching up on "summer movie" reviews. Seems strange to feel like I'm playing catch-up here, since summer doesn't actually start until Friday…
Anyhow, I'm digging out the old movie rating system:
5 *s = "WOW!"
4 *s = "Good."
3 *s = "Stupid fun, decent, or at least not bad enough to get 2 *s."
2 *s = "Bad, but not awful; or awful, but enjoyable either despite or because of that."
1 * = "The best part was the end, because then it was over."
no *s = "*Deep, pain-filled sigh*...I will never get that [insert running time here] of my life back."

First up is the most recent one I've seen: Man of Steel. My prediction was: good action, mediocre plot, bad gender. So, how did it do?
Well, the action was good, sometimes. I think the story held together better than I expected. I liked the themes they chose to focus on (hope, use of power vs. restraint, and self-determination), though I don't think they did them as well as they could have. And, the gender stuff was  less aggressively bad than I'd thought it would be. So, I have quibbles, but I think it was entertaining. It's definitely worth watching, if you're into the idea of a Superman movie (or a movie with Henry Cavill in it). It's especially worth it if you, like the gentleman I recently overheard at a coffee shop, "just want to see a big, loud movie, where Zod and Superman break some shit, and Superman eventually saves the day, and Lois Lane is a hottie."
But, therein lie the quibbles. (And, herein lie the spoilers.)
Read the rest at No Shortage of Opinions.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Tropical Green Smoothie

Tropical Green Smoothie
Mangoes were on sale, so I figured it was a good time to change up my smoothie routine.

1 mango
1 banana
1 small green apple
1 kiwi fruit
1/2 of a pear

1 orange (peel a remove most of the pith, pull apart into 3 or four chunks)
or juice of a large orange
or 1/2 cup water

Blend, blend, blend, on whatever speed your blender likes for making a smoothie. If the fruit is fresh, I squish and stir, using less liquid; if it's frozen, I add liquid to get the blender going. It should end up looking something like this: 

No doubt, this would already have been a delicious fruit smoothie. But, I'm doing a green smoothie thing right now, and this is more of a lovely orange color. Not to worry!


3-ish handfuls of leafy green stuff -- I do a mix of kale and spinach, and change up the ratio to suit my mood.

Blend some more. If I've been working with fresh fruit, I'll also blend in some ice cubes. If most of the fruit has been frozen, I don't usually need ice.

Now, drink up! I don't really do exact measurements, but I usually get enough for a big (32oz-ish) smoothie.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Here Comes the Rain Again

Working on a weather-inspired mix. Here's the first track that came to mind:

Any suggestions for good "rain" songs? Leave links to videos in the comments, if you can!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Dick move, Hansen. Dick move.

On Monday, when just about everything got overshadowed by the terrible events in Boston, New Hampshire political blogger "Susan the Bruce" wrote of an email sent to the NH House's internal email list (back on April 1)  by Representative Peter Hansen. In this message, Hansen seems to have referred to women as "vagina's [sic]." Here's what Hansen wrote:
The Representative from Manchester [Rep. Steve Vallaincourt] blogged today his full speech from the well at last weeks vote on HB 135. 
There were two critical ingredients missing in the illustrious stories purporting to demonstrate the practical side of retreat. Not that retreat may not be possible mind you. What could possibly be missing from those factual tales of successful retreat in VT, Germany, and the bowels of Amsterdam? Why children and vagina's [sic] of course. While the tales relate the actions of a solitary male the outcome cannot relate to similar situations where children and women and mothers are the potential victims. The presence of one or both ingredients demands that a potential totally different outcome might have prevailed and that is the factor which I believe was dismissed in the HB 135 debate and vote. 
Rep. Peter T. Hansen
Hills. District 22 Amherst
ED&A Committee
--quoted from "Vagina's and Children First!" by Susan the Bruce 

"Children and vagina's [sic]"? Leaving aside all of the obvious grammar and spelling issues...ok, I can't. If you're going to say something ridiculous like this, can you at least not confuse the possessive with the plural? As written, the sentence is nonsensical, which leaves the reader to figure out the meaning through context clues. He seems to be trying to say that his colleague's argument left some things out. What were those things? Those things were children and...vaginas (the plural of vagina, which must have been what he meant)? What a strange time to be talking about genitalia. Oh, wait -- children and women and mothers -- that makes more sense. Sort of. I'm pretty sure that mothers are women, but ok. So, then -- wait, are we to understand, as it appears, that children : children as vaginas : women and mothers?

The story was also picked up by HuffPo Politics, with both articles discussing the response made by fellow representative Rick Watrous, who asked what any reasonable human being should ask: "Are you really using 'vaginas' as a crude catch-all for women? Really?" He went on to suggest that Hansen think before sending out "such offensive language." Now, I take Watrous' meaning to be that language that conflates "women" with "vaginas" is offensive, and that Hansen should not have sent the language that conveyed that offensive conflation out to the whole office, as it were. Hansen seems to have read it differently:
"Having a fairly well educated mind I do not need self appointed wardens to A: try to put words in my mouth for political gain and B: Turn a well founded strategy in communication into an insulting accusation, and finally if you find the noun vagina insulting or in some way offensive then perhaps a better exercise might be for you to re-examine your psyche," Hansen wrote.

Notice anything strange? Watrous asks if Hansen really (really?!) intends to use "vaginas" as a synonym for "women," and says, I think (I hope) that language that does so is offensive. Hansen responds that his word choice -- the noun vagina -- should not be offensive. But he in no way addresses the more substantive issue, which is what he means by using the noun "vagina" in a place where he should be using the noun "women." Even allowing for the ambiguity of Watrous' last sentence, it seems disingenuous to focus there, instead of on the very clear and substantive criticism he leads with. Because Hansen is right -- the word "vagina" should not be seen as inherently offensive. But that doesn't really seem to be what Watrous is saying. Perhaps the response of NARAL Pro-Choice New Hampshire was more clear:

"Women are more than their reproductive organs. ...We deserve more than being referenced by our body parts."

Hansen seemed to say in his first responses to criticism that that isn't what he meant to do, but it's difficult to get any other meaning from his statement, and he didn't bother to provide a clarification. By Wednesday, Hansen had issued an apology. As quoted in HuffPo Politic's follow-up article:.
"I want to apologize to my constituents, my colleagues and women, especially those in my life, for the blatantly offensive, insensitive and, frankly, stupid language I used in my email with House members regarding the Stand Your Ground legislation," Hansen wrote in an emailed statement. 
"I am embarrassed, to say the least. There is no place or need in the public discourse for the words I used. The people and the process deserve better than that."

Notice anything strange, here? Perhaps the problem is that Hansen needs to work on being more clear in what he says, so that he can be sure he's saying what he actually means. Because I can't tell if he's actually gotten the point -- if he realizes that his particular use of the word "vagina," not the word, itself, is the issue. It sounds like he's apologizing for his word choice, not for the thinking behind it. But is the problem really that "there is no place or need in the public discourse" for the word "vagina"? Because I thought that the problem was that there is no place or need in the public discourse to use the word "vagina" in a demeaning way -- as a substitute for the word "women," seemingly suggesting that women are reducible to their vaginas. Using the word "vagina" is not a problem if you are, in fact, talking about women's genitalia and have some good reason to be doing so. See, right now, I'm talking about using a specific body part -- the vagina, as opposed to, say, the leg, or the kneecap -- to refer to women in general. I'm saying that using the specific word for female genitalia to refer to women in general is misogynist, making it a particularly offensive use of synecdoche. I'm also saying that using offensive, sexist language in a professional e-mail is classless and at least a little bit dumb. But those things aren't true because there's something wrong with the word "vagina." Calling women "vaginas" is sexist, offensive, classless, and dumb because women *have* vaginas, as opposed to *being* them. So I am using a perfectly acceptable word in a perfectly acceptable way, while talking about that perfectly acceptable word being used in an unacceptable way. If I were to collectively refer to all of the men in NH's House of Representatives as "penises," that would also be using a perfectly acceptable word in an unacceptable way. I hope we can all agree on that.

Now, if I were to say something like: "Peter Hansen is probably a sexist asshole; he is certainly an ignorant dick who misuses apostrophes," we might reasonably disagree on the use of synecdoche as slang and the appropriateness of being inappropriate in casual conversation.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Fug Madness 2013: The Final Fug

Well, as we know, Kat Graham -- 2nd seed in the Cher bracket and my pick to win it all -- went out in round 2. Let's take a moment to remember:

Kristen Stewart (top seed from the Madonna bracket), for whom I'd also had high hopes, fared a bit better, making it through to the Elite Eight before falling to second seed Kim Kardashian.

I've been waiting, since the beginning of the tournament, to post this picture.

Kardashian made it all the way to the final, where she faced off against Justin Bieber (I'd predicted a Graham vs. Bieber final, so I got half of it right), top seed from the Bjork bracket. You know how I voted. But whose fug prevailed? Do yourself a favor and watch the montage.


VICTORY! Let this be a lesson to all the unbeliebers out there.

If you just believe in yourself, and make sure your pants have enough extra room in the crotch to hold your belief and your dreams, there's no end to how ridiculous those pants will look I mean how much you can achieve no, really, I mean how ridiculous those pants will look.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Game of Thrones, season 3: Death Watch

Pajiba friend Brandon Johnson will be doing a weekly "Game of Thrones" (TV) Death Watch.
Editor’s Note: We will be running the Death Watch each Friday, courtesy of our buddy Brandon. Two things to keep in mind: 1) There WILL be spoilers of any and all past episodes. 2) Do NOT spoil any future events. At all. This is a zero tolerance policy, much like the reviews. Any comment with any spoiler gets deleted. Other than that, please enjoy our most awesome new weekly edition of “Game Of Thrones” Death Watch.
—TK, Pajiba

I like the idea, and have been having a similar conversation with my brother. Working only from the TV episodes through 3.1 (we haven't read the books), we agreed, before the start of the season, that Tywin is in imminent danger of shuffling off this mortal coil. He's competent, which makes him a threat to others; he's influential, which makes him a threat to others; his death would cause all sorts of trouble, which makes killing him a good narrative choice; and he's a Lannister, which makes him a likely target for Lannisters and non-Lannisters alike.

He's not happy about it, but he knows I'm probably right.

We also agreed that Shae is *decidedly* unsafe. As is Jorah Mormont.
Dude, you know what you did.

Speaking of being I've said to my brother, I believe that there are just too many Starks running around. In keeping with that, I think Rickon should have a higher death-ranking than Sansa.  
Sorry, kid.
Don't look so pleased. I think his ranking should be higher, but I don't think yours should be any lower.
Hers is probably just about right at a 4, but I'd bump his up to 6ish, given his lack of development, so far.

I also include the family direwolves in the Stark head count, and would put Grey Wind's odds of biting it higher than Ghost's right now -- they're both in highly perilous circumstances, but I feel like Ghost is not yet done saving Jon Snow's ass.
I know, Robb. Take it as a compliment, though. Despite the fact that you're at war, I honestly think your direwolf  is less necessary for your survival than your brother's is for his.
Don't look so hurt, Jon. You know I'm right.
I'd put Ghost at a 2, Grey Wind at a 4 or 5. But, given how poorly I'm doing at predicting Fug Madness, that probably means they're both more like an 8.

I also link Samwell Tarly's ranking to Jon Snow's, which puts him at the relatively safe end of the impending death spectrum, for the moment.
Having somehow escaped death in the season cliffhanger, I don't think he'll get offed until Snow is there to witness/be traumatized by/be either powerless to prevent or somehow responsible for his death, because that's how much Snow's life sucks.
I think Ygritte is safe, for now, and for similar reasons: she's also not going to get killed before she can help complicate Jon's life a bit more.
Don't look so worried, Snow. I'm sure the Night's Watch will understand. I mean, it's not like you...
Ok, um...but she would never--
Yeah, OK. But you already knew you were screwed, right?
Tyrion sees what I did there.
Robb's lady, on the other hand, is a goner. I don't know that she's likely to go in the next few episodes, but she's *definitely* on my most-likely-to-go list, so we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.
There, too.

What do you think -- who's most likely to get axed? Or stabbed, or defenestrated, or poisoned, or set on fire, or...

And remember -- no spoilers from the books (or the interwebs)!

Fug Madness 2013, Final Four

Rita Ora (1) vs. Kim Kardashian (2)
*Sigh.* Rita, we hardly knew ye.

Justin Bieber (1) vs. Rihanna (1)

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Fug Madness, 2013: Elite Eight

After somehow forgetting to vote yesterday, I was able to get my votes in this morning, just under the wire, for the first matchups of the Elite Eight. In the CHER BRACKET, I voted for Rita Ora (1), largely because I'm holding it against Zosia Mamet (10) that she knocked K. Graham (4eva) out. But also because this.

Meanwhile, in the CHARO BRACKET, I think J. is right -- Heidi Klum (2) seems to be rocking a very specific fug and, if it really were a Boobs Legsly-off (SPLINTER TOURNAMENT!), she'd get my vote. But, on a pure fug-off, I'm giving this one to Rihanna (1), because no.

Later on, in the BJORK BRACKET, I'm hoping Justin Bieber (10) can keep me from ever having to see this picture of Lindsay Lohan (6) again. And, in the MADONNA BRACKET, Come ON, Fug Nation -- KStew (1) should TOTALLY BE WINNING against KKard (2)! UGGGGH!

Sigh. At least The Bieb is still going strong.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Fug Madness 2013, Sweet Sixteen, part 2

Chloe Sevigny (6) vs. Zosia Mamet (10)
Cheer up, Zosia -- I'm pretty sure you're going to win this one!

Justin Bieber (1) vs. Lady Gaga (4)
This is how you take out Lady Gaga.

Heidi Klum (2) vs. Christina Hendricks (6)
I think Klum is going to skate by on this one. Maybe that's only fair, since I feel like there should be ice skating involved with this. I don't think it matters -- I don't really see either of these ladies making it much further. What do I know, though -- I really though Kat Graham was going to make it to the final (against Bieber, so there's still hope for half of that).

Kristen Stewart (1) vs. Ke$sha (4)
Ke$sha is thrilled to see that this race is so tight. KStew...less so. I'm pulling for K. Stew.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Fug Madness 2013: Sweet Sixteen, part 1

Rita Ora (1) vs. Jessie J. (4)
This one is close, so far, and rightfully so. I still think the concussion jumpsuit is worse, but this is quite bad in its own right, and was the piece that decided my vote. Also, every time I read her name, I hear this.

Lindsay Lohan (6) vs. Lena Dunham (10)
Sigh. Let's not speak of it.

Rihanna (1) vs. Elle Fanning (5)
Baggy leather capri pajamas? 'Nuff said.

Kim Kardashian (2) vs. Carly Rae Jepsen (3)
I really think Jepsen's romper should be making a stronger showing, but that shit so cray, even Kanye is hanging back, like, "Wow, Kim -- I don't know..."

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Fug Madness 2013, Round 2, part 2

Anne Hathaway (3) vs. Chloe Sevigny (8) I don't have much to say about this one, so I'll just leave you with this.

Kat Graham (2) vs. Zosia Mamet (10) I can't even talk about this, but for very different reasons. I will say this: I think Fug Nation is making a big mistake. HUGE. For fug's sake, people -- SHE'S WEARING A DRUNK TOTEM POLE!

Alas, with her impending exit, my bracket will die. I'll keep playing along, but I'll know in my heart that she was robbed.

Lady Gaga (4) vs. Miley Cyrus (5) 
Even this won't be enough to stop the Gaga, but I wish it were.

Julianne Moore (1) made a good effort against Justin Beiber (8), but these pants are one of the fugliest things EVER.

Jessica Biel (3) vs. Christina Hendricks (6) 
I quote the Fug Girls, from another post: "Be bravely fugly, or battily fab. Have a little fun with it. Get us talking, not napping." I feel like Jessical Biel's fug is undeniably fug, but also utterly uninteresting. I'm voting for Our Mrs. Reynolds, by default.

Diane Kruger (7) vs. Heidi Klum (2)
Heidi: OH! Are you still here?

Diane: Well, actually, I think Joshua and I were just leaving...

Heidi: I thought so. Auf Wiedersehen!

Ke$sha (4) vs. Jessica Chastain (5)
No Contest.

Kristen Stewart (1) vs. Christa B. Allen (8)
This, however, was a contest. I'm sticking with KStew, though. This dress made me do my best impersonation of her as Bella: befuddled stare, jaw agape. KStew will pick up the mantle when Kat Graham's exit is official.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Fug Madness 2013: Round 2, part 1

My brackets are in bad shape! I'm not surprised, but I'm still disappointed. But, it's not over, yet -- I've still got hope for tomorrow's matchups.

Kim Kardashian (2) vs. Emma Roberts (10)
Le sigh. I was pulling for Kevin McHale, and hoping not to have to vote for a Kardashian. I had to vote for a Kardashian.

Carly Rae Jepsen (3) vs. Halle Berry (11)
Well, Blanchett went out -- these pants were obviously a force to be reckoned with. But I correctly called CRJ over SJP, so I'm sticking with her. Sadly for her, so will this photograph.

Rihanna (1) vs. Stella McCartney (8)
I called this matchup, though I think it'll be the last of the good news for me in this division. Rihanna will probably take it (I mean, her clothes *are* wackadoodle), but I really think Stella's are more *fug*.

Elle Fanning (5) Demi Lovato (13)
I was pretty sure Elle would knock January out on the strength of those terrible shoes, but I underestimated how much people hated Demi Lovato's hair. I'm going with Elle again (why is this visible under-dress thing a thing?) in this round, but that won't help my bracket. There may still be hope later in the tourney, though.


Katy Perry (2) vs. Lena Dunham (7)
I really disagree with Katy Perry over Gemma Arterton, but the people have spoken. I also disagree with Lena Dunham over Katy Perry (LOOK AT THIS), but I think I'm going to lose that battle, as well.

Nicki Minaj (3) vs. Lindsay Lohan (6)
As I think I said last round, I just can't with LiLo anymore. Nor should I have to. Fug Nation is blinded by whatever is happening here, but we should really be concerned about the fact that Nicki Minaj looks like a kind of cross between Venom, a beat cop, and wallpaper at the palais de Versailles. We know, by now, that Lindsay's not ready to change, but Nicki is obviously crying for help.

Rita Ora (1) vs. Vanessa Hudgens (8)
Jessie J. (4) vs. Jennifer Lopez (5)

Rita Ora's jumpsuits (and that sartorial concussion) took out the vagkin! I really hope I get to see her go up against Jessie J's catsuits.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Fug Madness, Round 1, part 2

Anne Hathaway (3) vs. Beyoncé (14)
Ok, Beyoncé wore this, but Anne Hathaway spent the biggest award season of her career (so far), one in which she was *obviously* going to win an Oscar -- looking so wretched that I can only express it in song.

I dreamed a dream of time gone by,
when fug was high and clothes ill-fitting.
I dreamed that this dress hurt my eyes
and that this one can't be forgiven...

You see where I'm going with this. I voted for Anne.

Kat Graham (2) vs. Amanda Peet (15)

Morena Baccarin (7) vs. Zosia Mamet (10)
Recently, on FB, AH posted that his "brain hard rebooted" when he read something. I'm going to steal that phrase to describe what my brain did when I saw this outfit. I think this one was more that moment when you boot up a Mac and, instead of the smiley face, you get a blinking question mark folder. Morena Baccarin brought the fug, but nothing that made me check the warranty on my brain.

Chloe Sevigny (6) vs. Lily Cole (11)
Wow. This one was really tough. I went with Sevigny -- Cole was a fugworthy opponent, but Sevigny brought the madness.

Justin Bieber (1) vs. Christina Ricci (16)
Fug try, Ricci, but The Bieb is in it to win it.

Lady Gaga (4) vs. Mamie Gummer (13)
I wanted to throw some Fug Love behind Mamie Gummer, because she seems to be totally serious about wearing things like this. But I laughed out loud at this, and there went my vote. Oh, Gaga. I don't know if the evil goat or this TSA t&a will give me worse nightmares.

Miley Cyrus (5) vs. Emma Watson (12)
Hermioine would not approve, but I had to go with Miley, because this is a snake away from being a way-too-short Dark Mark romper.

Julianne Moore (8) vs. Hailee Steinfield (9)
I've given up hope for Julianne Moore, but Hailee Steinfeld? Why, fashion gods? WHY?!

Heidi Klum (2) vs. Jessica White (15)
Um, JessicaHeidi? What good is being a model, if THIS is what you do with it?! I've voting for Jessica, because WTF?

Diane Kruger (7) vs. Kerry Washington (10)
Seriously? I'm pretty sure these women are both just fucking with us. Diane Kruger and Pacey Joshua Jackson dream up the worst of the worst, then sit around and laugh about how everyone Tried to keep a straight face. And Kerry WashingtonNo. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

I voted for Kerry Washington, because I went to Google and had to work too hard to find pictures of her looking right. I'm pretty sure Kruger will take it, though, because this.

Jessica Biel (3) vs. Rashida Jones (14)
Why can't Rashida Jones wear clothes that fit? I mean, she is cute, and must have a TON of money -- she could have everything tailored, if she needed to. I don't get it. And then there's the part where this made me go cross-eyed. And I find everything about Jessica Biel uninteresting, so I voted for Rashida.

Christina Hendricks (6) vs. Amanda Seyfried (11)
No filtering on this one -- these were my actual responses to the accompanying photos:

My vote went to Hendricks, because she is such a habitual offender.

Kristen Stewart (1) vs. Michelle Dockery (16)
Good lord -- I thought the 20s costumes were bad on Lady Mary, but this dress is WAY worse, and it's not even a costume. But it's nothing compared to what Kristen Stewart is wearing. These outfits are so hideous -- HIDEOUS! --that they distracted me from the fact that HER MOUTH IS ACTUALLY CLOSED!

I'm pulling for KStew. Here's hoping that girl makes better choices all around in the coming Fug year.

Ke$ha (4) vs. Ashley Benson (13)
Meh. I find Ke$ha's lack of pants more desperate and tiresome than Fug, and Ashley Benson seems about as boring as Jessica Biel. I voted for Benson, because that's what was closest to the cursor when I scrolled down.

Jessica Chastain (5) vs. Gwen Stefani (12)
Jessica (the Fug Girl, not the fugtestant) wrote: I CANNOT WITH THIS DRESS. Neither can I, but I even more cannot with this. No, really -- I can't even tell for sure what it is. Game: Stefani.

Eva Longoria (8) vs. Crista B. Allen (9)
Eva Longoria came out swinging, but Crista B. Allen swung back, using her capey thing to distract her opponent. Then she finished it off with something disorienting, and suspiciously like semi-leather formal shorts. I have no idea who she is, but Allen gets the vote.

So long to Round One. I expect some epic matchups in the Cher bracket next round.


Thursday, March 21, 2013

Fug Madness, Round 1, part1 (Madonna and Charo brackets)

Kim Kardashian (2) vs. Liberty Ross (15)I keep trying to ignore everything Kardashian, but had to vote for her, even though it's against my bracket. I mean, really.

Carly Rae Jepsen (3) vs. Sarah Jessica Parker (14)
Someone should call Carly Rae, maybe, and talk to her about her fashion choices. I think she should take this one.

Cate Blanchett (6) vs. Halle Berry (11)
Halle, these pants are even worse than your wackent in the X-Men movies. Cate, I don't even know how to respond to this. You're both better than this. Pull it together, ladies.

Kevin McHale (7) vs. Emma Roberts (10)
I suspect that Emma Roberts will take this match-up. I mean, she's certainly tryingReally hard. But I voted for Kevin McHale anyway. Man-fug usually just means dirty-looking or ill-fitting. I'm glad to see McHale doing something more fug-fashion-forward.

Elle Fanning (5) vs. January Jones (12)
Elle Fanning, especially her shoes.

Demi Lovato (13) vs Julianne Hough (4)
Demi Lovato, because oh my god.

Stella McCartney (8) vs. Emma Stone (9)
Stella McCartney's jumpsuits may be the new Lindsay Lohan's leggings. 

Rihanna (1) vs. Kirsten Dunst (16)
She's not the #1 seed in her division for nothing, y'all. I love it that the bystander in that picture seems to be thinking, "Really, Rihanna? Come on, now, girl."

Fug Madness, Round 1, part 1 (Cher and Bjork brackets)

Rita Ora (1) vs. Adrienne Bailon (16)
How much fug did top-seed Rita Ora have to bring to make me vote her over play-in "winner" Adrienne Bailon, who played her way in by wearing something Heather has dubbed a "vagkin"? See. For. YourSelf. Heather described that last one as "what concussions look like," and she is not wrong. I gave myself a concussion once. I was in a canoe, and there was a low-hanging tree branch, and my common sense/understanding of physics failed me, and I would accept that outfit as an artist's rendering of the first seconds after impact.

Vanessa Hudgens (8) vs. Katie Holmes (9)
Holmes works really hard to look really bad, but my vote went to Hudgens', whose fugwear has a nutballs flair to it that amuses me.

Jennifer Lopez (5) vs. Elizabeth Banks (12)
I like an underdog, and I worry that the brilliance of Heather's J. Faux "voice" give an undue advantage, so I voted for Elizabeth Banks over Jennifer Lopez. I think the victory will go to Lopez, but it felt like the right thing to do.

Jessie J (4) vs. Selena Gomez (13)
This one was a real blowout. This is terrible, but it's no match for this.

I think my overall bracket is going to take a big hit here.

Katy Perry (2) vs. Gemma Arterton (15)
As tragic as this is, I feel like Katy Perry's kook-fug is often derivative -- a little bit Madonna, a little bit Britney -- and always trying a little too hard. So I'm going with Arterton, because what? Why? I'll admit, though, that I like this one, but only as long as the pale stripes are actual dress (interesting), and not see-through (tacky). It's a little crazy, but I think it works on her.

Nicki Minaj (3) vs. Krysten Ritter (14)
I'm pretty sure I was sober when I filled out my bracket, but I somehow picked against Nicki Minaj. I'm sure I must have had a reason, but I can't remember it. Whatever that reason was...come on.

Lindsay Lohan (6) vs. Alexa Chung (11)I just can't with LiLo anymore, so I had to protest-pick Alexa Chung. This *is* really bad, though, so...

Naomi Watts (7) vs. Lena Dunham (10)I was sort of meh about this matchup. I mean, this is fugly. So is this. But I think I really voted for Dunham because Naomi Watts' husband makes it hard for me to focus on her clothes. And because she wore this.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Fug Madness 2013

The end stage of dissertation writing was one of the toughest periods of my life. One of the things that helped cheer me up was Go Fug Yourself, which was, at the time, a daily destination for me. For those who aren't familiar with it, Go Fug Yourself is a website run by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan (aka "The Fug Girls"), who wittily skewer celebrity fashion insanity. Having reached a new tough time (career transition, unemployment, blah, blah, blah), and given all of the Very Serious Thoughts I've been thinking* lately, I could use a little levity. So, this year, I'll be playing along with Fug Madness, which is like college basketball's March Madness**, but with terrible fashion choices.*** I've printed out my brackets, and I've set up the elliptical machine at my "desk" (aka my brother's kitchen table), so that I can make myself feel virtuous by getting some exercise while researching this year's fugticipants.**** Not ready to make my picks yet, but here are some initial thoughts on this year's fugetition*****:

The Cher Bracket - I'm hoping for a big year for Kat Graham, because it's got to get better than her current storyline on The Vampire Diaries.

The Bjork Bracket - Am I ready to be a Belieber?

The Charo Bracket - Rihanna's always the easy choice, but I think there's more interesting fug to be had in this division this year. I mean, Stella McCartney also designs most of the fug she wears.

The Madonna Bracket - As much as I'd like to find a reason to root for KStew, there's another K out there who wants this. Badly.

I'll post my bracket once I get it all filled in -- anyone interested in playing along should let me know in the comments of this post!

*You'll note I said "thinking," not "writing here on this blog."
**For those not aware of that either, March Madness is a nickname for the National Collegiate Athletic Association's annual single-elimination basketball championship tournament, which happens in March (mostly).

*** Not that college basketball is exempt from those.
****Just give up, spellcheck.
*****No, really -- give up, spellcheck.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Terms of engagement

A privilege is a special advantage available to some, and not to others. Having a privilege is not inherently bad or good. I love king cake, and had the privilege of being in New Orleans during king cake season (aka Mardi Gras). That privilege is inconsequential to some, and makes others a bit jealous. I'm not a bad person for being in New Orleans, or for loving king cake, or for eating it when I could, and those poor souls who love king cake, but couldn't get any, are not bad people because they missed out. Though they might be sad people. Sad, king-cake-less people. But some privileges are much more substantial than access to delicious baked goods. It may not be such a big deal if I joke about the fact that not everyone who wants king cake can have it, but shouldn't it be a big deal if I joke about the fact that one group has the special advantage of full human dignity, while another does not?

Of Dogs and Lizards: A Parable of Privilege is an excellent explanation of privilege, its perks, and its pitfalls. It's fairly brief, and also funny—if you haven't already read it, it’s worth checking out!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

New juice excitement

I've been continuing to experiment with juices, and have just started to branch out with the greens. T. recommended that I try sneaking in a little spinach, to to try it -- she said I wouldn't even taste it. So, I put a little bit into a celery/carrot juice I've gotten fairly comfortable with. I could definitely taste it, but it wasn't bad. So, today, I took the full plunge and tried a modified version of this kale, spinach, and pear smoothie for breakfast. I forgot to take a picture, but it suffices to say that it was very green. Surprisingly enough, it was also very delicious.

Blend one big handful of spinach, a handful of kale, 1 cup of orange juice, and several ice cubes. Add 1 banana, 1 pear, and honey. Blend. Pour over ice.

It was a little sweeter than I'd drink regularly. Next time, I'll try a fresh orange, either less pear or no honey, and maybe 1/2 a lemon. And I'll remember to freeze the banana. I didn't feel hungry afterwards, but wasn't quite satisfied, either -- I'm not sure yet how much green juice or smoothie I'll have to drink for it to substitute effectively for a meal.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

New Year, New Adventures

I don't think my allergies have adjusted to being home in New Orleans as quickly as my psyche has. Or maybe my sinuses are just not as good at repressing their responses as my psyche is. Whatever the case, I feel like coming home has been pretty easy, so far: there's obviously some angst -- new year doesn't really mean new personality -- but, for the most part, I feel like I'm kind of ok with being here. I'm definitely feeling good about being so close to family and friends I've lived far away from for quite some time. But, I'm not sure my respiratory system is feeling the love. I thought it was allergies (it probably was), then I felt like I was fighting something off (I probably was), and then there a random sore throat, which has sort of come and gone for several days. This is the stage at which I might go to a doctor, if not for the continued unemployment, and it's resulting lack of health insurance; instead, I took advantage of the fact that I'm unemployed by dosing up on cold meds and going back to sleep.

When I got up take a second crack at Tuesday, I decided that it was as good a day as any to embark on one of my new adventures for the year: juicing. Fruits and veggies, not steroids. I ran across a "detoxing" recipe that's supposed to be helpful when fighting a cold, so I started with that one:

4 carrots
4 celery stalks
one small cucumber
one small apple
1/2 lemon

The recipe also called for 1 beet, which is *obviously* not happening. I added a chunk of ginger, or at least I think I did -- I know that I peeled it, but I have no memory of putting it into the juicer, and thought I'd sat it on the counter. But, it's nowhere to be found, and the juice does have a little bit of a gingery sharpness to it, so I'm guessing it's in there.

I was skeptical about drinking vegetables, but it's surprisingly tasty. Though I suspect it would be tastier with a shot of vodka in it. I don't really care for Bloody Marys, but I always want to like them -- it's like they're almost delicious, but not quite. Now, I wonder if a Carrot-Ginger Mary would work...

But I digress. New year, new adventures. I've moved; I'm still looking for a job and trying to figure out a new direction; being unemployed sucks, except for the part where you can just go back to sleep if you wake up feeling sick; and my first attempt at juicing was successful enough that I'll keep doing it. 

And happy new year.